Dr Paul Richards, member of the King’s Lynn Conservancy Board responsible for the navigation and pilotage of the port, takes a look at activity over the last few months. His column appears every two months in Your Local Paper. Pictured is the Annika Braren with its modern “sail” at the Riverside Quay on May 25.

Over April and May, 40 merchant vessels arrived and 42 departed King’s Lynn with 19 and 22 ships in ballast respectively. Trade has been buoyant for our North Sea haven.

Timber from Scandinavia and the Baltic continued as by far the major imported commodity with 12 shipments.  There were four part cargoes discharged from vessels first unloaded at Hull (2) and Seaham (2). Eight ships sailed to Lynn direct from the Baltic with full cargoes.  

One of these eight timber ships is Annika Braren which arrived from Sweden on May 25. It is fitted with a modern version of sails which allows five per cent of fuel to be saved. The sail is a large lightweight rotating cylinder which spins at speed to cause a wind effect which “pulls” the ship.

Wheat from northern Germany has become another staple import over 2020/21. Four ships landed full cargoes from Vierow on the German Baltic close to the Hanseatic ports of Lübeck and Stralsund. This traffic has given the Eastern Virage a regular run carrying three of the four loads. Three of the four wheat shipments from Vierow to Lynn in February and March had been handled by the same vessel.

Two cargoes of potash fertiliser for England’s farmland were unloaded by the Nestor and Vulin from the Dutch capital of Amsterdam.

Three other single cargoes were discharged in this period. The Kongsfjell transported aggregate for the building industry from Randers in Denmark. Barley from Montrose on the east coast of Scotland was imported by the Rig no doubt for malting in Norfolk. The Celtic Navigator carried maize from La Pallice, the deep water port of La Rochelle on the French Atlantic coast.  In the Second World War the Germans built a formidable submarine base at La Pallice which remains standing.

Scrap metal was again Lynn’s principal export with 12 shipments of which five went to Amsterdam, two to Antwerp (Europe’s second biggest port), and another two cargoes to Klaipeda in Lithuania.  Three other merchant ships had the north Spanish coastal towns of Aviles (2) and Bilbao as their destinations.

The usual export traffic in barley was concentrated in April when five ships transported cargoes to Rotterdam (2), Schiedam (near Rotterdam), Ghent (Belgium) and Belfast.  

In May the Helene arrived from Wisbech to load barley but inspection of the holds prevented the ship sailing with a cargo because preparatory work could not be completed in time to catch the tide (it departed the port for Portugal in ballast).

The Lyrika carried barley malted in Norfolk to Buckie near Aberdeen for the Scottish distilleries.

The Eems Carrier and the Theseus both transported beans from Lynn’s agricultural hinterland to Floro in Norway, another run with which readers will be familiar. 

The King’s Lynn Conservancy Board has had a very busy two months. The St Edmund undertook six navigation buoy moves due to changes in the approach Channel caused by increased river flows during the wet winter. It also sailed across The Wash to Boston to collect eight surplus navigation buoys which will be used to replace old buoys in the Lynn Channel over the coming years.

The South Quay has been the home base for several craft associated with the Viking Interconnector cable project linking England and Demark by two buried electricity cables.

The UKD Seahorse arrived at Lynn to carry out some berth preparation alongside Riverside Quay which was opened in 1991. Over twenty years it has increased the capacity of the port and represents a successful investment in infrastructure by ABP (Associated British Ports) which owns the dock estate.